Before venturing into something unknown, it’s natural to thoroughly research a problem or a task to reduce risks and increase success chances.

The product management field is no walk in the park, so aspiring product managers are eager to understand the ins and outs of the role before taking the plunge. They would like to understand this dynamic role from every angle to benefit from this research later.

In this edition, we’ve tapped into the wisdom of seasoned professionals as we explore the easier and more challenging aspects of their roles. For those considering a career in product management, this article sheds light on what awaits one as a PM.

Our experts share their experiences on:

  1. Why brainstorming, communication, and feedback analysis are rather manageable and enjoyable tasks and how to handle them;
  2. And why aligning stakeholders, adapting to the changing landscape, and execution among many are difficult to navigate and how our experts handle these in their journey 

Many thanks to these people for sharing their experiences and insights:

We are also grateful to Rakhi Bhagat for crafting this piece for us.

Rakhi Bhagat is an experienced Product Manager with a focus on the fintech and logistics sectors. She holds an MBA in International Business and has a track record of delivering effective solutions in her field. Her career showcases a solid understanding of product management, especially in fast-changing industries.

The easier aspects of a PM’s job

Amidst the complex nature of product development, there are aspects that contribute to satisfaction and efficiency in everyday work. Brainstorming, seamless communication, and feedback analysis bring forth a variety of viewpoints, spark creativity, identify potential challenges, and help find effective strategies to address them. We unravel the elements that make certain aspects of a product manager’s responsibilities more manageable and enjoyable.

Brainstorming 

Sherin Joseph, product manager at Welspun World 

The initial stages of brainstorming and research are relatively manageable and enjoyable. This phase is especially exciting as it marks the inception of the project, where the enthusiasm is at its peak. As a product manager, this stage allows me to envision the project’s direction, involving creativity, strategic planning, and laying the foundation for the long-term roadmap and detailed project strategies. 

At this stage, I have the freedom to explore creative ideas and set the project’s tone, making the initial stages of brainstorming a more comfortable and fulfilling aspect of my role. The novelty and freshness of this early stage contribute to a sense of manageability and enjoyment.

Aniket Bhatt, Senior Product Manager at Amazon

One of the more manageable aspects of my daily work as a product manager (PM) is the task of driving clarity through the definition of product strategy — addressing the ‘What,’ ‘Why,’ and ‘How’ of our products. This process unfolds by delving into customer problems, and it concludes by crafting an Amazon-style six-pager business document. I find it to be one of the more straightforward and gratifying aspects of my role as a PM.

The structured nature of this kind of brainstorming and product strategy definition allows me to have a clear roadmap, aiding in effective planning and implementation, ultimately contributing to the ease of performing my daily responsibilities.

Communication and team dynamics 

Amit Vijayan, Senior Product Manager at ContractPodAi  

The best thing for a PM is to identify their strengths and weaknesses and then work on both. One thing I tell a PM is that you are not alone. So, even if you are the only PM in your company, use the strengths of others to improve your weaknesses. 

As a PM, I realized there are aspects I lack or situations I’m facing for the first time. Here, I am very proactive in understanding others’ perspectives and experiences. It’s always helpful to make informed decisions. And even after that, if it turns out to be wrong, it’s always a learning experience for the future.

A collaborative mindset and openness to learning from others help me in making this process easier.

Aniket Bhatt, Senior Product Manager at Amazon  

As a PM, I dedicate at least 20% of my working hours to driving strategic product communications for both internal and external stakeholders. Communication is the key to clearly defining the product value proposition, go-to-market plans, pitch materials for sales, and feedback mechanism for customers. Clarity in communication helps to manage expectations with stakeholders around investments, timelines, and revenue goals but also ensures that the market understands and receives the product as intended.

Feedback analysis 

Vishal Purswani, Product Manager at JustDial 

Feedback analysis is particularly rewarding as it helps to witness the product’s growth and impact in real-time. It’s a dynamic and continuous process, enabling PMs to make data-driven decisions to steer the product in the right direction. This feedback loop empowers PMs to fix issues, enhance features, and align the product more closely with user needs.

Sherin Joseph, Product Manager at Welspun World

Analyzing user feedback and post-launch data can be a rewarding aspect of the role, as it enables product managers to assess the product’s performance and make necessary adjustments. This phase follows the considerable effort invested in launching a feature or product and offers a roadmap for future work. 

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The more challenging aspects of a PM’s job

Now, let’s dive into the tough and demanding facets of product managers’ job.

From navigating complex stakeholder dynamics to steering through the uncertainties of market trends, our experts unravel the hard aspects that shape the resilient and adaptive nature of a product manager’s life.

Aligning Stakeholders 

Sherin Joseph, Product Manager at Welspun World

One of the most challenging aspects of a product manager’s job is managing the ever-changing and competing priorities. Balancing various stakeholders’ demands, including customers, development teams, and business objectives, can be extremely demanding. Making decisions that align with diverse interests and ensuring that the product meets various needs while staying within constraints, is a significant challenge. Additionally, adapting to rapidly changing market conditions, technology advancements, and user preferences adds complexity to the role. Handling these critical and dynamic elements along with staying adaptable becomes a continual challenge for me as a PM.

At this stage, effective communication and collaboration are essential. Staying informed and proactive in monitoring market conditions, technological trends, and user preferences allows us to adapt swiftly.

Vishal Purswani, Product Manager at JustDial 

A PM needs to align all stakeholders and build deep trust about the product, which takes time. Rarely are all stakeholders always equally passionate with what they are working on, hence this process of building trust and alignment is extremely critical. 

Prioritization frameworks and clear communication between stakeholders help me in making decisions that balance the varied needs of customers, development teams, and business objectives. 

Ever-changing landscape and complexities

Sherin Joseph, Product Manager at Welspun World 

Adapting to rapidly changing market conditions, technology advancements, and user preferences adds complexity to the role. Handling these critical and dynamic elements along with staying adaptable becomes a continual challenge for me as a PM.

Regularly reviewing user feedback, conducting surveys, and analyzing product analytics to understand user behavior, preferences, and identify areas for improvement helps me adapt to the changing market landscape.

Amit Vijayan, Senior Product Manager at ContractPodAi 

Focusing on research across the year rather than doing it once a year is a tough thing. As a PM, you are always in constant chaos or situations you must deal with. But we need to remember that doing continuous research means that you are ahead of all other stakeholders in understanding your customers, competition, and alignment to the company’s vision to help those who could make the decisions that are long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes.

Keeping an eye on broader technology trends, collaborating with cross-functional teams and staying informed about market trends, emerging technologies, and competitor activities is the key to gain a holistic perspective.

Vishal Purswani, product manager at JustDial

Given the uncertainty, it’s critical for any PM to block time for anything unprecedented — resolving crashes, downtimes, or mishaps that require immediate RCA and resolution. The irony of planning for uncertainty is the best example of how unpredictable the job of a product manager is. 

Maintaining thorough documentation of past incidents, fostering strong collaboration with cross-functional teams, including engineering, IT, and customer support and real-time monitoring to provide early warnings, allows the team to handle uncertainties.

Taking responsibility 

Amit Vijayan, Senior Product Manager at ContractPodAi 

PMs need to be at the front when the chips are down or own the teams’ failures. It’s important to be in the front when things are tough. For example, a module that you, as a PM, recently took over starts having too many bugs and escalations. It’s very important not to get dragged into a blame game and rather focus on collectively bringing everyone together and playing on your front foot. 

Vishal Purswani, Product Manager at JustDial 

The hardest part of a product manager is to take responsibility for all functions of the product without having any authority over any of them. PMs often find themselves in a position where they don’t have direct authority over the teams responsible for engineering, design, marketing, sales, and other vital functions that contribute to the product’s development. It’s a constant battle of negotiations where influence beats authority. 

Execution 

Aniket Bhatt, Senior Product Manager at Amazon

Effective product/feature delivery and success in meeting customer requirements and business objectives are a must in the PM role. Building execution muscle by practicing high judgment and relationship building is as important (if not more) as building the right product roadmap and often separates the highly effective PMs from the rest of the pack. 

Summary

In product management, balancing the manageable and rewarding aspects with the inherent challenges is key. For example, brainstorming, strategic product definition, seamless communication, and feedback analysis are vital components that enhance satisfaction and efficiency in a product manager’s role. However, aligning stakeholders, navigating the constantly evolving industry, and managing significant responsibilities present substantial challenges.

All in all, effective work involves a continuous learning process, which includes building trust, adapting to uncertainties, and demonstrating ownership in difficult situations.